In every human interactions, one of the fundamentals of building strong human relationships is our ability to Communicate effectively. But just what do we understand by Communication ? From the Merriam Webster’s dictionary, Communication can be defined as “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a Common System of Symbols,Signs, or behavior”.
From the above cited definition, it is important to note that there is a difference between Communication and Information. Communication is a two-way channel between the Communicator(person sending a message) and the Communicatee(the receipient). In terms of information, it has to do with impartation of ideas,reception of knowledge,updates on events and happenings around us. It is often believed that for Communication to be complete,the information, or message sent must get to the recipient, and not just that,there must be a feedback received from the Communicatee(receipient) to the Communicator(sender). When a message is sent from the sender, it is encoded,and when it is delivered to the receipient, it is decoded, and the essence of feedback is to enable the sender know and have an assurance the essence of sending the message has been understood to require an act or performance of certain tasks or
Skills required to enable effective Communication:
- Maintain eye to eye contact- When you are involved in a conversation with someone, learn to communicate by maintaining an eye to eye contact. When you do this, you should watch out for what we call non-verbal Communication. By none-verbal communication, we mean body language.e.g, You are talking with someone, and in the midst of your conversation, the fellow keeps staring at his or her wrist watch intermittently. As a good communicator, you should be able to know that perhaps your conversation is taking too long a time to complete, or perhaps the person granting you audience might have an appointment to catch up elsewhere, but might not feel comfortable to tell you to end the conversation, simply because they don’t want to offend you. For example, the expression on the face of your audience could tell if you are actually passing across the message that is needed for their consumption.
- Learn to ask good find-out questions- one of the ways you can better communicate is to ask some relevant find-out questions that will require your audience to respond or provide you with a detailed response or answer. Use words like Who,where,when,What, and how? Instead of asking your son/daughter a question like, Is it good to take your studies seriously? The child will obviously give you a yes or No response, and you might not be able to impact some sense into your child. But when you ask a question like: why should you take your studies seriously? The kind of response provided by your child will determine your next response. Where his/her response shows poor understanding, then as a parent, you can know where to start from in terms of counseling.
However, there could arise certain barriers to effective communication. The following could stand as barriers to effective communication:
- Noise- Noise is anything that can impede effective communication. Noise might not necessarily mean the normal noise generated from sounds. It may take the form of complexity of the choice of words used in your expression, either written or spoken. For instance, you are speaking to a set of people who are of high-school age, and your choice of words suggest being grandiloquent, i.e. a pompous manner of expression intended to impress others; if what you are saying cannot be understood or decoded by your audience, it means you have been producing noise to your audience.
- Technical Jargons- Technical Jargons are expressions used in certain fields of human practice that appear complicated to by someone who is not in that profession. e.g. There are medical terminologies or engineering or legal terminologies. For instance, a Lawyer is having a conversation with someone or a group of persons, and one of his audience makes mention of a matter or case, because he/she wants to make his conversation appear more complex, he says, it is sub-juris. A layman may find it difficult to understand what it means for a Court-case to be sub-juris. Why can’t you say, the matter is still pending in court, and that you might not want to comment so as to avoid preempting the Court?
- Semantics– The use of semantics can also cause a barrier to effective communication. Semantics are words that carry dual meanings e.g Take-in can mean to deceive, and in some other parlance, it may imply that a lady is pregnant. A female animal may be interpreted as Tigress, a Hen, an Ewe, mother, daughter, or sister. Power may be interpreted in its literal sense as the ability to compel others to act in a particular way. Power may also be seen in the perspective of Electricity. Another example is the use of Yes. Yes in onr situaation, may mean No in another situation. For instance, when you knock at the door to an office,when you hear the word Yes?, the norm is for you to open the door and enter, but when you knock at the door to a toilet, and you hear the word Yes? it doesn’;t imply that you should open the door and come in! So care must be taken to ensure that your audience understands your message and that you also understand the use of signs,symbols and semantics in general.
- Cultural and Language barriers- For you to communicate with your audience, there must be a common language between you and your audience, except there is an interpreter to relay the meanings of what you are saying. E.g If you are speaking to a French speaking audience, be sure that they understand English except you can provide an interpreter or can also speak French, then you may communuicate in the Language familiar to them. In some cultures, or religious circles,a man is not expected to have an hand-shake with a woman that is not his wife. It is therefore important that you factor these in mind.
Conclusion: Communication is the life-wire of human interactions, and when used effectively, conflict will be reduced. Just as humans cannot feel healthy without blood circulation, so also, organizations and people cannot live peaceably without proper and effective communication.